Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dip Dyed Reusable Canvas Bags

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We all recognize the three "R"s that we learned in grade school. Earth Day is around the corner and its time to get thinking about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Using recycled cotton canvas bags while shopping is a great way to reduce our waste while doing routine activities. These bags are sturdy enough for the heaviest groceries, and are 100% reusable and machine washable. I dip-dyed a few of my favorite canvas totes to add a little color and fun into my shopping routine, and today I'm sharing them with you.

DIY Dip-Dyed Reusable Canvas Bags - reduce waste by bringing your own shopping bags to the market.
Canvas bags don't have to be boring. Being made from 100% cotton means that these bags can be dyed, decorated, and otherwise customized to fit your personality. I chose to dip-dye my bags with an ombre effect in two different colors. These fun, vibrant bags are great for taking along to the grocery store, to the Farmer's Market, or even packing up to take to a picnic in the park.

I started shopping with reusable bags because I was sick of the waste from one-time use plastic bags.  Shopping with reusable bags is becoming a way of life for many Californians. While the state can't agree on a unified plastic bag ban, many cities in California have adopted bans on plastic grocery bags. My town adopted a plastic bag ban in January 2014, meaning they stopped providing plastic bags to customers and charge 10 cents per paper bag and offer reusable bags at most registers for a fee.

Don't pay for paper bags in the grocery stores! DIY Dip-Dyed Canvas Bags

Who wants to pay more at the grocery store? I sure don't!

Instead, I picked up a batch of reusable canvas bags, like these canvas totes through ECOBAGS, an environmentally-conscious, socially responsible company. They have bunches of great products to help you go green. I took my canvas bags and a few bottles of Rit Dye to create these brightly colored market bags.

Dip-Dyed Reusable Canvas Bags

Materials needed
  • 1 bottle Rit Dye in Wine (for the fuchsia color)
  • 1 bottle Rit Dye in Navy (for the blue color)
  • 2 large plastic bins for dying
  • 1 large plastic bin or sink basin for rinsing
  • 1 cup salt dissolved in 2 cups hot tap water per color
  • Hot tap water or electric kettle
  • Measuring cup
  • Large spoon
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Old towels (these will get dye on them, so plan accordingly)
I used the bucket dying technique since I wanted to control where the dye was distributed. Next time, I will recruit an extra hand for taking pictures of the process, but I'll try to explain the best I can.

Ombre Dip-Dyed Shopping Bags. See the tutorial here:
  1. Fill your dye bucket with enough warm water (140° F) to dip your items in easily. Add your salt water and stir well.
  2. Add your dye. Since I wanted an ombre effect, I started by adding 1/4 c dye to the water to create a light color. Test the color by dipping a paper towel into the dye.
  3. Fill a second bin with warm tap water and wet your item. Wring excess water out and smooth out wrinkles.
  4. Dip your item in the dye (I found holding each side gave me more control of the item, hence the no photos). Lift and lower the item into the dye until the shade is desired.
  5. Squeeze out excess dye. Rinse dyed portion in cool water. Wring and smooth wrinkles
  6. Add another 1/4 c dye into the water and stir well to create a slightly darker shade of dye. Dip item to the desired height, and lift and lower until desired shade is reached (I dyed each layer of color for about 2-3 minutes).
  7. Repeat step 5 and 6 until all dye is used up. Rinse dyed portions under cool water until water runs clear, then hand wash in mild detergent and cold water. You can help set the color by rinsing in a vinegar solution before drying. To dry, I first rolled my bags up in an old towel to squeeze as much excess water out before hanging to dry.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Create your own DIY ombre dip-dyed shopping bags with this tutorial.

If you are doing multiple bags in the same color, be sure to dip them all in the dye before intensifying the color. I found out my mistake a little too late when dying the blue bag, so there is only one! I used the same dye to dye a couple more canvas bags a solid color, for more canvas bag projects (look out for future tutorials).

Do your local stores still distribute plastic bags? Why not adopt a waste-saving routine like bringing your own bags?

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